Wednesday, January 13, 2016

ESO-PRO presents the Wrestling Weekday Top 10 Wrestlers of 2015: Honorable Mentions Part 5

As we get closer to revealing the top wrestler of 2015, I just wanted to remind everyone to keep their eye out for the return of ESO-PRO: The Pro Wrestling Podcast. I was a member of the original incarnation of the show, but John Morgan Neal will soon be presenting a reanimated ESO-PRO in 2015 with a wide variety of guests. Keep an eye out for it at the ESO site.

Today we run down the wrestlers ranked twentieth to fifteen on the list.

Xavier Woods greatly increased his profile with his Youtube series.
20. Xavier Woods: While his compatriots in the New Day ranked in at #5 and #8, Xavier Woods spent most of 2015 serving alternately as the team's spoiler and jobber. He lost the titles to the Prime Time Players in one of his few defenses, but he also helped Big E and Kofi win them back at SummerSlam. And while he hasn't got anywhere close to the number of wins his allies have, he's been solid in the ring and on the sidelines, where he's been trombone playing comedy gold. He's also shown how to diversify his career as the host of the new Up Up Down Down Youtube show.

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19. Roman Reigns: The now two time champion pushed down WWE fans' throats for most of the year managed to rank in  only in nineteenth place. Though he's improved by leaps and bounds over the course of the year that over-push along with a lackluster feud against Bray Wyatt hampered his place in the polls. Only Richard Evans placed him in the Top 10 wrestlers on his list and he failed to chart on all but two correspondents' picks. I suspect the strong booking to end 2015 will help him greatly in 2016, even if WWE's current storyline seems dangerously close to starting the over-push again.

Image credit: ROH.
18. Michael Elgin: One of a few wrestlers at this point on the list only because of my high rating for him. ROH continued to push him in really strange ways and seemingly only when they felt like it, but the same couldn't be said for NJPW, who brought him over for the G1 Climax as part of their talent exchange with the American company. He quickly won over the Japanese fans with his mix of hard hitting puroresu style moves and power lifting combinations even the bigger Japanese stars have a hard time pulling off. He put on a strong performance in the G1 (though I still cry that we were robbed of a singles match between him and Shinsuke Nakamura, now never to be) as well as the World Tag League where he was the chosen partner of New Japan ace Hiroshi Tanahashi.

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17. Dean Ambrose: I'm going to say I'm a bit surprised Dean Ambrose didn't make it into the Top 10. While WWE mostly used him to enhance other stars, whether they were Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns or Seth Rollins, he put on great matches pretty much all year long. He ended the year with a series of stellar matches with Kevin Owens, but only John Morgan Neal ranked him in his personal Top 10. He called Ambrose "The most over guy in WWE," a summation that while true, hasn't helped him get the titles most fans think he deserves. Perhaps his run with the Intercontinental title as 2016 kicks off will change that.

Sexy Star is a big enough star in her native Mexico to be a part of the Latin
American edition of the ESPN Body Issue. 
16. Sexy Star: While the Diva Revolution was little more than a few great matches in NXT, Lucha Underground had a woman stealing the show every week she appeared. She had great matches with Pentagon Jr, Super Fly and Marty "The Moth" Martinez, and it looks like she will have a strong 2016 when the second season of the show kicks off. And just think, she could have been a huge WWE star if then talent coordinator John Laurinaitis hadn't declared her "too fat".

That brings us to the final round of Honorable Mentions, that will make their appearance tomorrow morning. Who will be on it? Expect another former WWE champion, a force in the Divas Revolution, another Lucha Underground standout and two more NJPW stars.

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